Home Improvement Ideas

ADUs making you profit in OC

Posted on September 22, 2018. Filed under: Accessory Dwelling Units, ADUs, Home Improvement Ideas, Homeownership, Making Life Easier, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate, Real Estate Stories | Tags: , , , |

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Anyone else notice how California keeps getting more crowded and more expensive? It is just too beautiful to leave so ADUs are great ways for adding much needed space here. They can be known as in-law suites, secondary units, guest house and more. These are more affordable for California residents because they don’t require purchasing more land or structured parking. Adding a living space above your garage, a basement apartment, or a tiny home in the backyard are great ways to add extra living space to your home. They also have the opportunity for homeowners to make a profit by adding space. Legally adding these spaces onto your home makes it the same property as the main house. They can not be bought or sold separately. The placement of the ADU may be based on criteria such as adequacy of water and sewer services and the impact of traffic flow and public safety. Some of the restrictions that may come up are parking, height, setback, lot coverage, landscape, and maximum size of that unit. Also if any of the homes are listed in the California Register of Historic Places that can change what you are allowed to do when it comes to adding and ADU.

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How to make a profit with your ADU

Did you know the average rent in Orange County is currently $2,500 a month? What would having that amount of money extra in your pocket do for your budget? New law changes as of January 1st, 2018 allowed for home owners to turn their single family residence into a duplex or multi family home in order to rent out one half to make a profit and provide more housing for California residents. The unit can only be rented, and not sold. This is such a great way for homeowners to make some money. Adding on to your home or remodeling to make a separate living space may sound like a hefty project with time and money, but with the rent prices increasing in OC all the time, we think it would be very worth it.

Real Life Scenarios

We spoke to a San Juan Capistrano retiree who decided to do just this in order to make some extra money while being retired. She bought a pre-fabbed ADU for around $60,000 and is renting it for around $2,500 a month. By doing this it will be paid off in around 3 years so she will be pocketing all of that rent money every month. What a perfect way for a retired person to make some extra vacation money or start saving for grandkids to go to college!
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If you want more information on how you can add an ADU to your property and what you could rent it for, fill out the form below.

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How to sell your home fast and for top dollar

Posted on June 29, 2018. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Orange County Real Estate, Organizing, Selling for top dollar, Selling your home fast | Tags: , , , |

 

Thinking of selling your home?

Are you thinking of selling your home but the process seems too overwhelming and hard? Maybe you have already decided to sell your home but aren’t sure about the process and how to get started. The AskAngie team has all of the answers for you in either situation. We know deciding to sell your home is not an easy decision and can be a very stressful time in your life. Most people want to sell it quickly in order to purchase the next place and everyone wants to get the most money they possibly can out of their home. We have all the tips to help you do just that.

Declutter and bring in the light

One tip we always recommend to our clients is to declutter before listing your home for sale. Having a lot of clutter around your home or on counter tops can really take away from the big picture of what you’re selling. Most buyers want to be able to come into your home and picture it as their own in order to decide whether or not they want to make an offer, seeing your items everywhere might make it hard for them to picture themselves and their family living there. We also suggest removing any dark drapes or window coverings to really brighten up the space and make it more approachable to a buyer. Bright areas and natural light catch buyers attention every time.

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An example of a light and bright living room

Changing perspective

In order to get top dollar for your home you have to mix it up and change buyers perspective of what they are looking at. One way to do this is using drone photos for your online postings and MLS site. This allows possible buyers to see the area around your home including the neighborhood, parks, or schools nearby. It also provides a different look at the home itself. We also always suggest that our sellers invest in a stager for their home. Making it look its absolute best is a stagers job – and we have some really good ones! This will help you get top dollar because buyers are seeing it at its best.

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Without this drone image you wouldn’t be able to see the AMAZING surroundings this home has. What a change in perspective 🙂

Knowing the market

We believe educating yourself via your Realtor about the current market before listing your home is a good way to prepare yourself for what is to come. Being prepared and knowing what you’re up against is a good idea for selling your home quickly. It is currently a sellers market here in the OC, and we are always looking for people wanting to sell their homes. There’s a lot of buyers looking but never enough houses for them to buy. Knowing this information before posting your home for sale can be very motivating and encouraging as you begin your journey with your house on the market.

Bring the whole package from day one!

We always bring our sellers perfect package to the MLS day one of its listing. In order to do this you need a good Realtor, good photos, and be completely ready to sell. If people have online searches saved they are only sent properties via email the day it’s added and if the price drops, because of this you want to have your pictures and postings perfected before it is listed on the MLS. We also provide a property website for each listings that you are able to share on social media and with any buyer who is interested in your property.
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29 more home selling tips waiting for you!

These are just a few additional tips that we added on to share with you. but our team has created a report, 29 Essential Tips That Get Homes Sold Fast (And For Top Dollar). If this report is something you are interested in reading or you know someone who is thinking of selling their home and could use some tips just fill out the form below to have it emailed to you! If you need any additional advice or are looking for someone to help you sell your home quickly contact Angie at 949-338-7408!

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Organizing Your Family’s OC Move & Memories

Posted on May 18, 2018. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Making Life Easier, Orange County Real Estate, Organizing | Tags: , , , , |

Do you have precious memories you want to save digitally?

digital4keepsWith Memorial Day around the corner we wanted to help you with one of your most precious items to move – MEMORIES! We have just the company to help you keep all those memories and pictures safe during a move. Mike Helsper and his team at Digital4Keeps organize and digitize photos and paperwork for easier keeping for you and your family. They offer a mobile scanning service that they can do for you in your home or in your office. This is used to archive all your important documents into safer keeping than just inside the drawers of your desk or filing cabinet in your home. Their passion is to preserve your families memories.

Preserving Memories

Digital4Keeps offers affordable simple flat rate, inclusive pricing, and packages. They have high speed scanning and organize those in a digital format so they are safer. They transfer memories and provide you with a DVD, flash drive or storage on a hard disk for your own computer. They can also touch up photos after scanning to ensure the best photo for safe keeping and offer to introduce clients to the cloud for better keeping. Have greeting cards that need scanning? They do that too.

Safety for Important Documents

They will protect your important documents and files from fires or any other disaster you wouldn’t expect to happen. They do this by scanning and filing your documents so that they are available in the digital world only for you or family members to have a copy of. To see more of what they have to offer check out digital4keeps.com

If you’re about to move and want your things organized before doing so or if you just want to make sure all of your memories and documents are in safe keeping for your future get a hold of Mike Helsper at Digital4Keeps – 714-814-1648.

If you need help finding that next home to make more memories in, we are always honored to assist! Angie’s standing by at 949-338-7408 to help you find the home of your dreams 🙂

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Add Thousands to Your Property Value!

Posted on May 11, 2018. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Informed Investor Alliance, Making Life Easier, Orange County Real Estate, Real Estate Stories, Smart Homes | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Easy Spring Upgrades Can Add Thousands to Your Property Value

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Spring is here, and it’s a great time for some quick and easy home upgrades that, for less than $1000, can add thousands to your property value! With clear days, sunshine, and wonderful opportunities to spotlight your property and its curb appeal—along with the chance to add to your property value and help make that sale!

Based on the local average home prices of $717,100 in Mission Viejo, this means as much as $28,684 in potential profits for many local home sellers, while also providing home buyers with the little extras and details that can make such a
difference to comfort and peace of mind.

Easy upgrade list for your home!

To help you maximize that appeal, here’s a checklist of upgrades to your home that are relatively inexpensive (most of those listed here can be accomplished for well under $1,000), but that can add significant property value and return on investment.

1. Replace Your Front Door. A beautiful new front door, preferably one that’s reinforced steel, will not only immediately add curb appeal, it’s also a bonus to home safety (and insurance rates), as well as to air quality. To stretch your budget, you can also simply do a nice repaint of the door instead.

2. Add a New Coat of Paint. A new paint job for the entire interior of the property (after covering and filling imperfections or holes in drywall) is a time-honored, popular and accepted method of adding newness and brightness to a home and instant appeal to homebuyers. However, don’t stop there. An exterior paint job can give new life to a home’s appeal, emphasizing its best features and providing home shoppers with a pleasing first glimpse of your property at its best. Just don’t indulge yourself in crazy shades and keep color choices tasteful and neutral.

3. Upgrade Your Garage Door. Your home’s garage door can take up as much as 35 to 40% of a property’s overall façade. It’s no wonder, then, that a new garage door is one of the best ways to increase a home’s visual impact while also increasing return on investment (as noted in the 2016 “Cost vs. Value” report). A new garage door also adds safety and security, and upgrading to an automatic versus a manual garage door is a big plus with home shoppers, according to many experts.

4. Inspect, clean and paint moldings, built-in bookcases and trim. Moldings can help to frame a room and show off its bones. Clean and neatly paint your moldings to show off a room at its most beautiful.

5. Professionally Clean Your Windows (Inside and Out). It’s amazing the effect clean and sparkling windows can have on the appeal of a property. From outside, they twinkle in the sun and provide a pleasant introduction to the home itself. From inside, and framed only minimally with draperies or blinds (keep them open when buyers visit) they maximize light and air, contributing to an overall impression of warmth and cleanliness.

6. Clean Carpets. Far too many overlook this simple, easy way to show off a home to its best advantage, freshen up for Spring, and give new life to old carpets when the budget doesn’t allow for them to be replaced outright with hardwood floors. This task also contributes to overall air quality and can make a huge difference in homes where smoking or pets were also a factor.

7. Install a New HVAC System. A new HVAC system improve air quality and energy efficiency, and can add tangible value to your home’s asking price. It’s also a great way to add an instant edge if you find your home competing with others in your area.

8. Fix and Repair External Gates and Fences. This is a repair that is both useful cosmetically, as well as being a big plus for home shoppers who are both safety-minded or who may be pet owners. You may also want to consider adding on a fresh coat of paint or varnish.

9. Upgrade or Install External Motion Sensor or Safety Lighting. According to many industry pros, now more than ever, the biggest single concern for most homeowners today is safety, so visible and tasteful, well-installed external lighting will go a long way toward giving home buyers peace of mind. Ring doorbells only cost about $100 and it’s a huge comfort when it comes to security.

10. Upgrade Your Water Heater. By upgrading to a better (and professionally installed) water heater, you’ll not only be adding to your home’s safety features and energy consumption, you’ll also be adding one more highly desirable element for today’s home shoppers. Make sure your water heater is properly strapped, too!

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If you need help accomplishing these tasks, or want to find a Home Repair Professional to assist with them, the SERVIZ app can be a great resource.

Just a few of these basic home repairs and upgrades can be worth their weight in gold for home sellers and real estate pros, and can increase the value of your home overall by potential thousands.

As the Spring sunshine returns, there’s never been a better time to add value to your investment. So what are you waiting for? Contact Angie at 949-338-7408 if you want help on adding to your homes value and getting the most for your home sale!

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Superior Home Safety Rankings in Orange County, CA

Posted on February 2, 2018. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Homeownership, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: , , |

Local Orange County Cities are Among the Safest in the Nation

As real estate professionals, we’re always keeping an eye out for stories on home safety, since it’s consistently one of the biggest priorities for people who are shopping for a new home.

That’s why we were delighted to learn that many nearby Orange County cities are actually ranked among the safest across the United States, according to the latest Home Safety Rankings (HSR) released by local home services app SERVIZ.
SERVIZ created its Home Safety Rankings when the company’s founders realized that they were failing as many as 1 in 3 home contractors for criminal background checks (definitely statistics the company felt they needed to explore further). Concerned by these numbers, SERVIZ then researched and assembled its groundbreaking new Home Safety Rankings (HSR) Index for over 100 metropolitan areas across the U.S., which not only offer statistics on home safety and crime, but which also provide a detailed look at the safety habits and concerns of
residents city by city. SERVIZ’s HSR findings include useful safety tips and suggestions, and received the approval of the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) as well.

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High Marks for Safety

Let’s look at how we did on a local level.

Out of 108 metro areas analyzed and ranked for home safety, several cities in the Orange County metro area ranked among the very top of the list, with high-ranking cities including Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and Mission Viejo, California!

Aliso Viejo residents can certainly celebrate, as the city was ranked the third safest overall, with a superb safety score of 79 out of 100 (with 100 being safest). Laguna Niguel also made the top 10, coming in at number 5, meanwhile, with a high 65 safety ranking—and both received A+ letter grade scores, too. Mission Viejo was number 9 in the top 10, meanwhile, with a safety
ranking of 61 and an A- rating. To give you an idea of just how good these numbers are, Los Angeles itself scored a C+ rating and a safety ranking of just 19, by comparison.

These statistics show that your chance of becoming a crime victim is just 1 in 126 in Aliso Viejo, 1 in 89 in Laguna Niguel, and 1 in 82 in Mission Viejo. These are impressive numbers when compared with L.A.’s 1 in 33 chance of becoming a crime victim!

The SERVIZ Home Safety Rankings (HSR) Index was achieved as a result of proprietary data collected over the last 5 years serving over 200 thousand customers, and 300 thousand home improvement jobs, and other publicly available sources. To view how California stacks up against other states, visit https://www.serviz.com/national-hsr-index.

Helping Homeowners Nationwide

Ultimately, SERVIZ isn’t just analyzing crime stats or helping homeowners nationwide focus on the big picture when it comes to home safety – the SERVIZ app is actually helping homeowners stay safer when booking home services right from their PCs or phones (booking a safe, highly rated, and fully vetted handyman in just a few mouse clicks). The company offers a safer, faster,
easier, and more transparent way to book and buy home services online. From handyman work to plumbing, carpet cleaning and appliance repair, SERVIZ provides highly rated, background-checked and licensed professionals at the click of a button, all backed by the SERVIZ Consumer Protection Plan.

To learn more about SERVIZ, visit http://www.serviz.com. You can also download the free
SERVIZ App on Google Play or iTunes for immediate use as well.

We also know many trustworthy local contractors if you still prefer a good old fashioned referral. Just text Angie at 949-338-7408.

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THANKS clients & Family Jules Art Gallery!

Posted on May 25, 2017. Filed under: Client Appreciation events, Home Improvement Ideas, Making Life Easier, OC Charities, Orange County things to do, Real Estate Stories |

We just wanted to send a huge thanks to everyone who was able to make it out for our first ever client appreciation event on 5/20/17 🙂 It was absolutely wonderful to catch up and hear your Real Estate Stories. We laughed, reminisced, mixed, snacked, & got a little messy. We thought it would be fun to do a ‘paint night’, where both creativity & vino were flowing. WOW did everyone’s paintings turn out cool!

We purposefully selected this tree. We thought it conveyed such a great light and energy, with a symmetrical yet organic flow. It’s like a ‘tree of life’ or a ‘family tree’; both of which make a great fit in our client’s homes. We want you to have solid roots, bear much fruit, and always be growing.

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Making an Orange County Masterpiece

It was an honor to color our canvases in a REAL Fullerton art gallery, Family Jules. Be sure to give them a like on Facebook or follow @FamilyJulesGallery on Instagram. Family Jules supports local artists by giving them a space to feature their art for a reasonable price, and helping artists market, and sell, & network. It’s a really neat concept and we we were happy to support them by donating our easels. Now they can now extend shows onto the courtyard, or hold more paint nights in the future. WIN-WIN. Our goal is to bring awareness and light into other cool venues like this with our future client appreciation events…so stay tuned! Feel free to comment below if you have suggestions.

Just a reminder we love and appreciate all our clients no matter how much we hear from you! Sometimes it’s every 5 years, other times it’s every 5 days…we’re here to support all your real estate dreams and goals. Stay in touch and let us be your resource to grow a solid real estate portfolio. 949-338-7408 or angie@askangie.com

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Orange County Solar – will it save me money?

Posted on October 21, 2016. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Informed Investor Alliance, Making Life Easier, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: , , , , |

solar-panelsWondering if you should add solar when you buy your home? It’s one of our most common questions, so let’s check into it! Today, we attended a solar seminar with Alan Issacs & GoSolar from our LeTip group to find out more on this popular subject.

The average monthly cost of electricity for a CA resident is $183/mo, or $2200/yr. On top of that, it’s constantly increasing, on an average of 5% per year. So if you think your bills are big now…just wait…

How does Solar work?

Solar panels convert sunlight into the same electric energy you get from the utility company. Materials consist of solar panels installed on your roof, and inverters. In many cases, you’ll still be connected to the grid, so you will have access to electricity if your panels don’t generate enough, and you will get a credit for the excess energy you generate – win win so far!

Solar Installation & Purchasing Tips:

  • Size your system to produce 80% of the energy you need, not 100%. You can always add panels later if you want to, as long as you are using a micro inverter instead of a string inverter.
  • If you buy solar (not lease) before Dec 31st 2021, you’ll receive a 30% federal tax credit
  • Just like homeownership, the really big savings comes over the long term; check out this 20 year projection graph:

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Interested in Going Green Now? Steps to Go Solar:

  1. Solar Energy Consultation
  2. Proposal
  3. Solar Site Assessment
  4. Contract
  5. HOA Approval (remember many HOA’s only meet once a month, and many times they require neighbor approval – plan in advance!)
  6. City Permit – the company you select for solar will usually pull this for you
  7. Installation – these work on EVERY type of roof, and typically takes 3 days
  8. Inspection
  9. Net Energy Metering (NEM) agreement
  10. Permission to Operate (PTO)

The entire process takes about 4-8 weeks, depending on weather, how many panels you have, and various other factors.

How Should I Pay For Solar?

It’s all about options – and there’s plenty. Some are by far better than others. Let’s explore them further:

  • Upfront – typically pays back within 5 years and offers a 30% tax credit
  • Consumer Energy Efficiency loan – also eligible for tax credit. This is also tied to you the owner, which will save headaches when you go to sell your Orange County home.
  • HELOC – you can use your current home equity to purchase by taking out a Home Equity Line of Credit
  • HERO / PACE loan – a secured loan where your credit is not even checked. Be careful of these options, it can scare buyers if you go to sell your home. If you KNOW you’re going to stay in your property until it’s paid off, then go for it. The interest rate is usually 8%; so it may be better for you to take out a HELOC if you have equity.
  • Lease / Power Purchase agreement – the worst option for payment, because you are not eligible for tax credit, it’s typically a TWENTY year agreement, and your lease payments typically increase annually (around 3%). This option can also make it difficult for you to sell your home.

If you’d like more info on Solar, feel free to reach out to 949-338-7408 or tweet @AngieWeeks, and we’d be happy to connect you with multiple people we know in the Solar industry!

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Tiny Homes & Cutting Edge Home Performance Monitoring 

Posted on September 23, 2016. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Informed Investor Alliance, Making Life Easier, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: , , , , , |

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Tiny Home owner / builder Corbett Lunsford

Good times at Orange County Association of Realtors today – we got to tour a tiny home & meet the builder! First cool point, the builder, Corbett, is a totally *normal* person, who has never built a home. He’s towed this tiny 7000 miles & it’s still in tact! Hopefully this inspires some of you readers who are interested to explore tiny builds further 😊 Check out the pics!

Tiny Terrors?

But wait. Isn’t it dangerous to try to build your own home? Well, builder homes aren’t as safe as you might think. Construction crews blow it all the time. A good build is about time & attention, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. It’s ok if you don’t want to DIY, but read on for some tips about ensuring your existing home is safe for your family.

Your home is a system.

Everything is designed to work together. But does it? Is the symphony in tune? You get a heart monitor at the hospital, but what about a home monitor for your most important investment?

And hey – energy efficiency is all the rage – the government will give you a rebate for replacing your furnace or air conditioner with a higher performance model; plus you’ve heard about all the solar credits too. Who wouldn’t want lower bills & tax breaks?!

How do I know my home is safe & efficient?

You won’t know until you get an Energy Audit & do some home performance testing! Here’s your 4-3-2-1 on what you want to look for:

4 Elements – heat flow, airflow / pressure, moisture, air quality.

3 Recommendations – air sealing (control heat bleed), insulation, HVAC / mechanicals

2 Systems – enclosure, engine (anything that moves)

1 Goal – CONTROL

Thermal imaging can tell you so much about a home’s efficiency. If you’re building a home, buying a home, or selling a home, then consider doing a blower door test and an infared thermal photography scan. This will prove beyond a doubt your mission critical systems are functioning or failing. More tests to prove efficiency are:

  • Duct / air tightness testing
  • Zonal pressure testing
  • HVAC testing

Home Diagnostics with Corbett & Grace Lunsford will be on TV next year if you’d like more info on how to go CSI on a home! Want it sooner? Check out #TinyLab on social media.

Call the AskAngie Team at 949-338-7408 or tweet @angieweeks if you need a referral to do one of the tests mentioned – we want you safe & smiling in your home, whatever size it may be 🏡 😄 🌟

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OC Home Fair & SoCal Home Ownership Day 2015 is this weekend!

Posted on March 25, 2015. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Informed Investor Alliance, Making Life Easier, Orange County CA Foreclosures, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate, Orange County Short Sales, Orange County things to do | Tags: , , , |

10923534_364393790399627_1417328444113218007_nHave any plans for this Saturday March 28th? If not, come visit the OC Home Fair at Chapman University. Learn everything about everything on home-owning, buying/selling, investing and plenty more! The speakers are industry leaders and hand selected – the best of the best!  The event is designed to help normal people make the most of real estate, and Chapman graciously hosts it with our YPN group, The OC Register, and NeighborWorksOC every year for FREE!

Existing Homeowner Classes

For all you home owners out there, there are plenty of seminars that could help and educate you. Everyone wants to save money, right? “Go Green and Save Money” and “ Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill” are a couple of seminar suggestions that will help save precious pennies! Would you like  to be an “Automatic Millionaire Homeowner“?  It’s actually a really easy concept – you’re invited to come learn how.  Thinking about a loan mod? Loan Modifications Tips and Tricks is taught by a non-profit.  You’re welcome 😉 Then, it may be time to consider Moving On Up: Making a Smooth Transition.

Classes To Buy A Home

Loans can be confusing, so there are TONS of classes, FHA Loans and Changes: What You Should Know or How Interest Rates Affect Buying Power is also super important.

First time buyers, check out “Steps to Buy Your First Home” to know what to do. Need better credit first? Well.. there is a class for that too, Ways To Improve Your Credit Score. Foreclosures are always a bummer! But did you know there is Life After Foreclosure and you can get back in the game? Closing costs can be scary but we have a class for that; Closing Costs: What Should I expect?. Want to know The Escrow Process, What to Expect With Your Home Inspection, or How To Make The Most Of A Small Space?  Come find out!

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Learn How to Invest in Real Estate

Investing is always a good long term plan if done correctly. Find out Property Management: Do’s and Don’ts and Commercial Property Purchases: Do’s and Don’ts.  Staging Your Home for Top Dollar is totally important along with, Deferring Capital Gains Taxes: 1031 Exchanges and Orange County Housing Market Report.  All of these sessions are custom tailored to teach you crucial things to know!

A huge thank you to the OC Register, YPN, Neighborworks OC  and Chapman University. They have all put hard work into promoting and supporting this annual event. Also a big thank you to all the speakers who take time out of their day to help educate the community on the important factors of everything Real Estate!

Now, Hurry and register for any class that interests you before all the seats fill up at www.OCHomeFair.com!!

Questions or comments?  Hashtags are #HomeownershipDay or #OCHomeFair.  See you Saturday 12-5pm!

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Orange County Real Estate Appraisals – “Ask The Appraiser”!

Posted on September 25, 2014. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Informed Investor Alliance, Lenders & Loan info, OC Property Profiles, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate |

Orange County CA Real Estate appraisals

Frustrated with OC real estate appraisals? Contact the professionals at the AskAngie team to learn tips and tricks to find a more accurate appraisal estimate!

Appraisers…..we love to hate them.  They scrutinize your house, call your ‘baby’ ugly, and they tell you it isn’t worth as much as you would like.  But they are a critical part of every real estate transaction when you’re getting a loan, so we have to learn to speak appraisal language.  What does an appraiser do, anyway?  In a nutshell, appraisers determine an unbiased price your property is worth at any particular moment in time.  They do this by pulling ‘comps‘ or comparable properties near you, and then factoring in upgrades and features to nail down a property price.  The bank hires an appraiser to confirm the loan they are about to give you is on a safe, solid, properly priced property. This week we had the pleasure of hearing long time Laguna Beach appraiser Mary “Vicky” Wilson tell us how we can get closer to the right numbers.  As an agent in the business 11 years, some of this info was totally new to me!  I’m sure you’ll learn a few things too – so read on 🙂

First off, appraisers take a completely factual and non-emotional approach.  So to get on the same page with them…you’ve gotta use your head, not your heart. Every price adjustment and comparable property needs to be validated with a series of facts behind it, not just thoughts or feelings.

Basic guidelines Orange County Real Estate appraisers follow:

  • **Appraisers do NOT NOT NOT use a price per square foot average.**  Don’t even try to value your property like this.  You may be able to justify it to the buyers agent, buyer, and yourself, but the appraiser isn’t buying it, and they give the bank the green light needed to lend the money needed & close this deal.  Now, lots and land are an exception to this rule, but the main dwelling is NOT.
  • Comps must be reasonable substitutes. ie single level properties vs 2 story properties are NOT comparable.  Read that again because it takes a minute to sink in.  SERIOUSLY??  The 2 story that is 3 doors down is not a comp if you’re a single story???  Notsomuch in the eyes of the appraiser. Be careful not to price a less desirable model in a neighborhood the same as the most desirable if they differ in stories.
  • To follow along these lines, lenders don’t want an appraiser to compare properties that are 15% plus or minus in size.  If you are the smallest model, you may not be a comp with the largest, and vice versa.
  • Lenders require 4 closed sales AND 2 backup or pending sales that support the value opinion & your price tag.  Pay attention to active, pending, & backup listings because the appraiser is!  They are looking for upward or downward trends in your local market.  One high closing in your area won’t help you, remember FOUR closed properties are needed, plus 2 more that are under contract.
  • Did you know there are only 17-20 line items on an appraisal?  Appraisers stick to the cold, hard facts.
  • L O C A T I O N is the #1 consideration.  Location also trumps distance from property.  So if you are the only ‘ocean view’ in your community, an appraiser may go to a neighboring community to pull other ocean view comps instead of other non-view properties in your same neighborhood.  Same would go for a ‘corner lot’ or ‘end unit’ location.
  • Time is of the essence.  Appraisers like 3-6 month old closed comps, not more than 1 mile away.  Pull up this data before you price your property so you are in line with the realities of today’s market.
  • No, your converted detached garage, pool house, or Mother In-Law suite is not part of the square footage of your property.  Ever.  Rule of thumb: If you have to walk outside the main structure and have air or water or wind touch you then it’s not part of the square footage 😦  Furthermore, to be considered square footage, permitted improvements must be above soil grade & under the main roof.  Sorry, but your cool casitas or underground grow and wine rooms can be appraisal line item adjustments, but NOT included in the square footage.
  • .75 bath (toilet, sink, shower) is counted as a full bath in appraisals!!!!  .5 baths with no tub or shower, on the other hand, are only noted as .1….so if your property is 5 full and 3 1/2 baths… it’s a 5.3 on the appraisal; not 6.5.
  • Appraisers only have 48 hours to send their appraisals in, and they get paid less than $500 per report.  Banks have high expectations and short timelines, so this is where a good agent comes in to assist your appraiser in understanding your home’s true value, quickstyle.  More agent tips coming if you keep on reading….
  • The market will *usually* pay back 50-60% of what you spent on upgrades!!!  Sellers who try to add the entire price of remodels or upgrades into a purchase price always end up disappointed.  Remember this ratio and come to terms with it now.
  • If you do have an unpermitted addition, appraisers will ask:  Does it have intrinsic value to the property? Is the addition positive or negative to the overall home?  How is the condition?  Remember, non-permitted additions won’t count toward square footage, ever, but it can be added as a line item to the overall valuation.

Tips for Realtors and homeowners to better work with appraisers:

  1. Be present at the appraisal appointment with a comp packet. Or email it early.  The appraiser is in the field NOW, not in 3 hours when you get back to the office and your email.  Don’t expect appraisers to drive back to see your comps.  Make sure to support upward and downward trends with comps and a possible market report, too.
  2. Inform – appraisers need to know what was upgraded and how much was spent. Readily offer full access to everything.
  3. Don’t approach an appraiser negatively or with an attitude if you don’t agree with their valuation. 
  4. Don’t say: “You should have no problems with the value”.  Famous last words.
  5. During follow up: don’t ask the value, they can NOT tell you the number directly.  Instead ask: “Did you find any problems with the home that may be an issue?”

Wanna Ask the Appraiser more specifics?

Mary Vicky Wilson is happy to do ‘range valuations’ for Orange County homeowners who are considering selling.  May as well do it now.
949-939-6806
Vicky@yourappraisalpeople.com

Want an Orange County Market Report and professionally pulled comps?

Contact the AskAngie team and we’re happy to help!  You can reach Angie direct at 949-338-7408.  Or just email Angie@AskAngie.com or tweet @AskAngieTeam so we can help you get the research you need to sell your biggest asset for top dollar!

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Don’t Just Upgrade, GREENgrade!

Posted on June 5, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

Alright, you’re thinking about upgrading your home. But along with those new faucets, fresh paint, and vinyl tiles, did you ever consider all the eco-friendly improvements that will add pizzazz to your property and boost the health and well being of our planet? These days, the possibilities for GREENgrading your home are virtually limitless. The choices fall into three budget categories.  Here are a few suggestions from each category –

LOW COST

  • Use CFC or LED light bulbs – Far more energy efficient than conventional bulbs
  • Insulate hot water heater – Can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%
  • Install motion sensors in offices and other common use area conference rooms to turn off lights when not in use
  • Install water efficient restroom fixtures – Reduces water use and saves you big bucks
  • Provide recycle bins

MEDIUM COST

  • Tune up HVAC – Improves both efficiency and comfort
  • Replace hardwood flooring with bamboo or cork floors – Will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Insulate attic and other areas
  • Buy recycled office products and equipment
  • Provide on-site bike room to encourage environmentally friendly commuting

HIGH COST

  • Buy ENERGY STAR appliances – Lower utility bills, better performance, and greater durability.
  • Replace roof with reusable/recyclable materials
  • Replace cabinets with sustainably harvested wood and low-VOC finishes – This type of wood comes from a certified wood harvesting site, not an unsustainably logged region, which can have a negative impact on the environment. Low VOC substances have less odor and impact on air quality.
  • Implement super energy efficient transformers – Reduces energy use and CO2 emissions.
  • Implement on-site water reclamation system – Save water and money on water bills.

Those are just a few of the GREENgrading options you can take advantage of. Hopefully you have some of your own eco-friendly tips. We’d love to hear about them. Just fire off your ideas below. Or tweet @weeksteam with #green.

And be sure to reach out to us if you have any questions. You can connect with our green team at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Home Grown Tips For Landscaping Green

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

Alright, you’ve decided to enhance the value and the beauty of your Orange County home with some first-rate landscaping. In preparation, you’ve no doubt pondered issues like space, style, and plant choice until your head hurts. But have you stopped to consider the environmental impact of your home improvement  project? The good news is that you can boost the beauty of your home and help keep our planet green simply by considering factors like water use, runoff, and sustainability in your landscaping strategy.

How Green is Your Roof?

One good way to score high points in these areas is by growing native fruits and veggies on your property. Indigenous plants already fit perfectly into the ecosystem. Since this type of foliage naturally belongs in the region, it requires less irrigation and less pest control than your average outsider. To save even more precious H2O, group together all plants with similar irrigation needs.  Plants that drink together, save water together.

You’ll also want to retain the maximum amount of natural landscaping. Keeping an abundance of native plant life in place does wonders to minimize runoff.

On the fertilizing front, composting is an effective, eco-friendly way to liven up your soil.  Check out Home Depot. They offer an excellent selection of easy composting solutions that will jump start your future of fertilizing.

OK. That’s it from this end of the planet. Does anyone else out there have some eco-friendly landscaping suggestions? We’d love to hear about them. Just fire off your ideas below. Or tweet @weeksteam with #green.

And be sure to reach out to us if you have any questions. You can connect with our green team at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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What Does Green Mean?

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

We all want a greener planet earth. But exactly what does green mean?  This is a tough question to answer. Seems everyone has a very personal set of standards.

As far as housing goes, you know your home is making the green grade when it’s blessed with a high LEED rating, Energy Star certification, or HERS score.

One thing green doesn’t mean is bland functionality pitifully short on good looks. Just feast your eyes on this selection of remodeling solutions to see the excitingly aesthetic side of eco-friendly.

Interested in introducing some eco-friendliness to the place where you hang your hat?  Try these to enliven your Orange County home with green goodness.

But deduct major points if you dispose of non-green refuse in a landfill. Far better to recycle, renew, or reuse.  Maybe you’ve heard of Habitat RE stores or freecycle.com?  Both are superb remodeling or updating partners.

No doubt you have your own ideas about eco-friendly. So what do you think makes a household green? Feel free to fire off your comments below. Or tweet @weeksteam with #green.

And, of course, be sure to reach out to us with any questions. You can connect with our green team at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Green Realtor Has Great Opportunity for Orange County Homeowners

Posted on April 22, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

As an Orange County Green Realtor, I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to improve our eco-system.  That’s why if you’re a homeowner, I’ve got some really fantastic news. We’re talking a super opportunity to save big bucks and save a little wear and tear on the very thing on which all life depends – our environment.  

Right now if you own a home, there are dozens of rebate and incentive programs available for those who bring green improvements to their property. You’ll actually get paid to go green. Or as I say, ‘you get green for green.’

Among the many outstanding programs are:

  • California Solar Initiative – Cash back rebates for those who install solar energy systems
  • Emerging Renewables Program – Rebates for wind and fuel cell energy systems
  • Energy Upgrade California – Wide range of home improvement projects that lower your energy use, conserve water and natural resources, and make your home healthier and more comfortable.

If you’d like to learn more about helping yourself as well as the environment, there’s a mountain of interesting information available from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Have Some of You Already Gone the Green Route With Your Homes?

Great!  I hereby grant you bragging rights. Go ahead and spill it all out about what you did and how much $ you saved. You can fire off a comment below. Or or tweet @weeksteam with #green.

And, of course, if I can be of help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can connect with me at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Flex Your Solar Power – Orange County Solar Options

Posted on March 25, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Making Life Easier, Orange County Home Improvement | Tags: |

As we roar into the home stretch of March, I thought I’d squeeze in one more reminder that this is Green & Sustainability Month.  Being the environmentally-conscious citizen that I am, I’d like to pitch in by covering one more topic related to the health and well-being of our planet – solar power.

Those of us in mostly sunny California will have no problem tapping into the unlimited supply of energy from our favorite and most important star. There are two great reasons to do so. Not only will this ever-present form of renewable energy save you major bucks on your electric bill, it will go a long way to saving Earth’s rapidly-disappearing natural resources.

But the benefits of this renewable resource don’t stop there. Other characteristics of solar power that make it a superb energy source are:

  • Non-polluting, unlike petroleum-based fuels.
  • Low-maintenance — Solar cells have no moving parts. So virtually no servicing is required.
  • Longevity — Solar cells can last indefinitely.
  • Versatility —  Can power everything from cars to satellites.
  • Adaptability — Solar power may be more practical than electrical wiring in a remote location.
  • Quiet — Solar cells silently collect all that energy from the sun.

I recently chatted with Rob Huie of Renew Solar Energy about this very timely topic.

For more great info about putting solar energy to work for you, please visit Orange County Solar Company, Renew Solar Energy. And, of course, if I can be assistance in any way, don’t hesitate to please feel free to reach out to me. You can connect with me at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Protect Your Orange County Investment and Your Family

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

Hey, folks. March is Green & Sustainability Month, and I thought I’d pitch in by sharing a few thoughts about an issue affecting us right where we all live – our home.  The issue is an insidious substance known as radon, the silent threat.  Radon was the primary topic on a recent episode of Dr. Oz, which stressed the importance of scheduling radon inspections for homes, businesses, and schools.

Here are a few things all Orange County homeowners or business owners should know about this silent threat:

  • Radon results from the decay of uranium in soil, water, and rocks, all of which can be found beneath a home’s foundation. From this starting point, the gas can seep into homes and eventually lead to very serious health problems.
  • Thousands of radon hot spots exist in the U.S. These locations demonstrate much higher than average levels of the gas. Specialized tests reveal evidence of a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and lung cancer. Clearly, radon testing is critical to ensure the safety of any home, business, or school.
  • While radon sampler kits are available, thorough testing by a professional environmental inspector is recommended. Such testing may utilize charcoal canisters, charcoal liquid scintillation devices, alpha-track detectors, and electric ion chamber detectors.

For more insights regarding this silent threat, check out this very informative video courtesy of the Dr. Oz show.

If you’d like maximum peace of mind, consider getting your home tested for radon levels. In my book, the best person for the job is Mike Cantor with 20/20 Home Inspections.  He’s friendly, fast, reliable, and state-certified. So give him a call. You’ll be glad you did.

Naturally, if I can be of assistance with this or any other issue pertaining to your Orange County home, please feel free to reach out to me. You can connect with me at 949.338.7408 or  angie@askangie.com,  @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Orange County Home Staging: Horrible Odors

Posted on March 10, 2011. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Making Life Easier | Tags: , , |

Keren Shamay of Shamay Staging & Redesign Inc. here. I am currently in AZ at Real Estate Investment school. Today’s topic? Fix and Flip. How to do it the right way. What are the hazards? What problems come up? During one of the discussions we ran across a house that had terrible pet odors. The kind that happen after years of more than 5 dogs living in a house, some of which never went outside. Imagine walking into that kind of house as a buyer.

Most home owners do no have that scale of problem on their hands. Many however do have a less offensive version of it. Most buyers may not say anything, but will definitely cross your house off the list of potentials to buy. So as a seller with a pet odor problem, how do you remedy it? The answer that will help the majority of homeowners is paint. Get enough paint to repaint the inside of your house. Go to a store that sells essential oils and get one vial of Cedar-wood and One vial of Orange. Mix 5 drops each of the oils per gallon of paint and paint your walls.

This should solve many of your problems. If it does not fix the problem, call a Stager who is experienced with this process for the next steps. You are at a point where you may need much more than basic staging advice.  They will be able to help you resolve the toughest of issues. As a home Stager I am very familiar with this remedy, and the next steps should they be needed.  No matter who you use, a Stager along with your Realtor are your best allies in getting your house sold.

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Room Planning

Posted on January 11, 2011. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips |

When looking for a new home and you want to keep your furniture but you’re not sure if it fits into your new room?  Here’s a website that can help you out!

http://www.bassettfurniture.com/tools/room-planner.asp

Take the measurements of the room and the measures of the furniture and your on your way to having a great fitting room for your new home! 🙂

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How to Protect the Price of Your Orange County Home

Posted on November 30, 2010. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Orange County Home Improvement, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: , |

Sometimes the best move is no move. And if you’re one of the many people staying put in your present Orange County home, you have plenty of incentive to keep neighborhood property prices as strong as possible.  Remember, however, optimizing home values isn’t a one person show. You and all your neighbors are in this together. So it’s best to adopt the spirit of a village. That means everyone pitches in and cooperates toward a common goal of price preservation.

Here are five proven steps that every homeowner can take to maintain those all-important property values:

  1. Appearance counts for a lot. Even the most spectacular house can get a big thumbs down if the neighborhood disappoints. This means all serious homeowners should secure a reliable gardener or a good set of tools, and keep those yards lookin’ like a million bucks.
  2. Alright, alright…Your beloved old clunker gets you everywhere you want to go. Unfortunately, it won’t win any beauty contests. So it’s best to keep your retro-ride off the street and in a garage.  Also, even if your car rivals the Sistine Chapel for beauty, avoid parking it in front of any home sporting a ‘for sale’ sign.  Homes typically sell a lot quicker when they can be found by Realtors and/or prospective buyers.
  3. Tell everyone you possibly can whenever a neighborhood home hits the marketplace. The sooner it sells, the less chance the owner will kick down the sale price and eat away a chunk of equity.
  4. Help Realtors help you.  Removing or taking down an open house sign might be good for endless laughs, but delaying the sale of a neighbor’s home won’t do a heck of a lot of good for YOUR own property value.
  5. Always paint the brightest picture of your neighborhood, street, or community throughout the social networks.  A barrage of badmouthing will get your community known for all the wrong reasons and will send potential buyers fleeing to a more attractive locale. Restrict all nasty remarks to an offline complaints department, and keep the compliments freely flowing ONLINE.

If you’d like to learn more about maintaining home prices in your neighborhood, I’m ready to help. You can connect with me at 949.338.7408,  angie@askangie.com,   @AngieWeeks or @WeeksTeam.

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Is Your Orange County Home Dressed for Success?

Posted on October 15, 2010. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips, Orange County Real Estate | Tags: |

Some say looks aren’t everything. But in the competitive world of Real Estate, appearance counts for a lot when your home is up for sale. We’re talking right up there with price and location.  A properly staged home can make the difference between a timely sale and forever and ever on the market.

Mary Jayne Barnett, expert stager and owner of Revamp Your Home, has some fantastic advice on staging your home to look its irresistibly best, using only what you already have.  Have a look!

If you’d like to learn more about staging your Orange County home to look its best, Mary Jayne will be delighted to help. You can connect with her at —

e mjb@revampyourhome.com

t 949.922.5357

f 949.459.6118

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    Orange County, CA Real Estate for hip first-time buyers and investors. Plus, fun things to know and do in OC.

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